AAA’s parking lot survival guide

Staff Report

Heading out to the mall or a big retail store for some Christmas shopping?

Parking lots can become dangerous when crowds go hunting for bargains. According to AAA data, 29 percent of all vehicle collisions in 2016 took place in parking lots.

“It is easy to become distracted by the hustle and bustle of the season, but traffic safety should be at the top of everybody’s list,” said Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central director of legislative affairs.

This season, the not-for-profit association is recommending a few steps you can take to spread holiday spirit by safely sharing the lot with pedestrians:

• Drive slowly inside parking lots and garages. Getting that great deal is not worth the risks of speeding around to find a space.

• Stay off your mobile device and always watch for pedestrians and other vehicles. Remember, they may not be paying attention to their surroundings.

• Back out slowly from your parking space, especially if you’re near large vehicles. Pause once you can see beyond the vehicles parked next to you; this allows passing drivers to see you.

• If you feel comfortable doing so, back into your parking space. This means you’ll be able to pull straight out of your spot with better visibility.

• Learn to play the outfield. Outlying areas have more spaces, lighter traffic, and a lower risk of collision.

• See and be seen. Use your headlights when scouring parking garages for spaces — even in the daytime. The light will let other cars see you coming around turns and can make fitting into that tight parking space a little easier.

• Don’t trap yourself. Avoid parking between a pair of tall SUVs or minivans where it might be hard for you to back out of the space.

• Keep an eye out for pedestrians and small children. Kids can be hard to see in busy parking lots and often make quick, unpredictable movements. When walking to and from the car, hold their hands to keep them safe in traffic.

Staff Report